Objectives and Research Area

Our department of Philosophy & Ethics of Technology aims to carry out philosophical research at the interface between fundamental philosophical issues and real-world problems that arise from the design and use of innovative technologies. We aim to do this in genuine interaction with the engineering, natural and social sciences.


Our guiding idea is that the analysis of many real-world problems concerning technology requires a philosophical perspective; and that these problems in turn inspire a substantial modification and extension of existing philosophical methods and theories. We also believe that philosophical analysis in this area should be informed by empirical work on design, use and innovation, including the social, psychological and economic mechanisms that shape these activities; hence our aim for interdisciplinary cooperation.


Research areas within philosophy that we primarily seek to contribute to are: ethics, meta-ethics, philosophy of science, epistemology, and metaphysics. A sample of research topics that illustrate one or more of the three aspects of our research are:


  1. Fundamental philosophical issues
    • New developments in consequentialism
    • Theories and models of cultural evolution
    • The ontology and functionality of artefacts
    • The role of artefacts in the theory of action


  1. Applications to technology
    • The extended mind and the role of cognitive artefacts
    • Technological risks and trust in technology
    • Formal analysis of responsibility in R&D networks
    • The validation and predictive power of climate models


  1. Interdisciplinary research with the natural and social sciences
    • Persuasive technologies and social values (sustainability, safety, quality of life)
    • The ethics of brain implants
    • Cognitive and social mechanisms of human tool use
    • Military robots and ethical decision making